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The Stranger and Social Theory

The Stranger and Social Theory


Review Essay THE STRANGER AND SOCIAL THEORY Vince Marotta The literature on 'the stranger' usually recognizes Simmel's authority in formulating a sociology of strangerhood. Occasionally this literature provides a reformulation of the stranger through specific types of actors. For example, the Simmelian stranger has been the basis for Park's 'marginal man' (1928), Wood's (1934) and Schutz's (1944) 'the newcomer', Siu's 'the sojourner' (1952) and Stonequist's notion of 'the cosmopolitan individual' or 'the inter- national mind' (1937).1 Recent revisionist literature draws on, but moves beyond, the Simmelian stranger and its presuppositions. The category of the stranger has thus experienced a renaissance in contemporary social theory (Dessewffy, 1996; Harman, 1988; Stichweh, 1997; Tabboni, 1995). In par- ticular, Zygmunt Bauman has been at the forefront in developing a social theory of strangerhood and his recent publications have contributed further to this intellectual project. In Work, Consumerism and the New Poor (1998a) and Globalization: The Human Consequences (1998b) Bauman is concerned with the constitution and treatment of the social and cultural Other in the west, especially those who have been excluded from an increasingly global- ized and mass consumer society. Builent Diken, in Strangers, Ambivalence and Social heory (1998), draws on Bauman's
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